Bassist Esperanza Spalding

Esperanza Spalding is an American bassist, singer, songwriter, and composer who has won five Grammy Awards, a Boston Music Award, a Soul Train Music Award, and two honorary doctorates. She is one of the most acclaimed and innovative jazz artists of her generation, blending jazz with various world music genres and languages.

Early Life and Education

Spalding was born in Portland, Oregon, on October 18, 1984, to a multilingual multiethnic household. Her father was African American and her mother was of Welsh, Native American, and Hispanic descent. She was inspired by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, whom she saw perform on the children’s television show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and taught herself to play the violin at an early age. She joined the Chamber Music Society of Oregon at age five and performed with them for 10 years. She also learned to play the upright bass, which became her main instrument, as well as guitar and piano. She explored various musical styles, including blues, hip-hop, funk, and rock.

Spalding dropped out of high school at age 16 and earned a GED. She attended Portland State University before transferring to the Berklee College of Music in Boston. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music in 2005 and became the youngest teacher at Berklee at age 20. She won a Boston Jazz Society scholarship for outstanding musicianship in 2005.

Career Highlights

Spalding released her first album, Junjo, in 2006 on the Spanish label Ayva Musica. The album showcased her instrumental and vocal talent as well as her original compositions. Her second album, Esperanza, was released in 2008 on the American label Heads Up International. The album was a commercial and critical success, reaching number one on the Billboard jazz album chart and staying there for more than 70 weeks. The album featured lyrics in English, Spanish, and Portuguese and fused jazz with Brazilian and Argentine folk music.

Spalding gained more exposure and recognition after performing for U.S. President Barack Obama three times in 2009: twice at the White House and once at the Nobel Prize ceremony in Oslo. She also collaborated with other jazz legends such as saxophonist Joe Lovano, pianists McCoy Tyner and Herbie Hancock, and singer Bobby McFerrin.

Spalding’s third album, Chamber Music Society, was released in 2010 and featured a mix of jazz and classical music. The album was a hit, reaching number 34 on the Billboard 200 chart and selling more than 200,000 copies worldwide. In 2011, Spalding won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist, becoming the first jazz artist to win in this category.

Spalding’s fourth album, Radio Music Society, was released in 2012 and featured more pop-oriented songs with guest appearances by singers Lalah Hathaway and Algebra Blessett, rapper Q-Tip, and actor Leonardo DiCaprio. The album won two Grammy Awards: Best Jazz Vocal Album and Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) for the song “City of Roses”.

After touring extensively with her own band and as a supporting musician for other artists such as Prince and Stevie Wonder, Spalding released her fifth album, Emily’s D+Evolution, in 2016. The album was a concept album inspired by her alter ego Emily and co-produced by Tony Visconti. The album featured a funk rock sound with elements of art rock , soul , R&B , and experimental music . The album received rave reviews from critics and fans alike.

Spalding’s sixth album, Exposure , was released in 2017 and was limited to 7 ,777 copies . The album was recorded live over 77 hours in front of an online audience , with no rehearsals or edits . The album featured collaborations with musicians such as pianist Robert Glasper , guitarist Lalah Hathaway , drummer Terri Lyne Carrington , saxophonist Donny McCaslin , vocalist Andrew Bird , rapper Common , violinist Regina Carter , among others . The album showcased Spalding’s spontaneity , creativity , and versatility Here is a possible continuation of the HTML content:

Recent Projects

Spalding’s seventh album, 12 Little Spells, was released in 2018 and featured 12 songs inspired by different body parts and sensations. The album was recorded live over 77 hours in front of an online audience, with no rehearsals or edits. The album featured collaborations with musicians such as pianist Robert Glasper, saxophonist Donny McCaslin, violinist Regina Carter, among others. The album showcased Spalding’s spontaneity, creativity, and versatility. The album won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album in 2020.

Spalding also launched a new project called Songwrights Apothecary Lab in 2021, which aimed to create songs that could heal and soothe listeners. Spalding collaborated with various artists, therapists, researchers, and healers to craft songs that addressed specific emotional needs and challenges. The project resulted in three EPs: Triangle, Formwela 1, and Formwela 2.

Legacy and Influence

Spalding is widely regarded as one of the most talented and original jazz artists of her generation. She has been praised for her virtuosic bass playing, her expressive singing, her eclectic musical influences, her adventurous compositions, and her artistic vision. She has also been recognized for her social activism and her educational work. She has performed at various benefit concerts and events for causes such as environmental protection, human rights, and music education. She has also taught at the Berklee College of Music and Harvard University, where she was appointed as Professor of the Practice of Music in 2017.

Spalding has influenced many other musicians and artists across genres and disciplines. She has been cited as an inspiration by singers such as Lianne La Havas, Janelle MonĂ¡e, Corinne Bailey Rae, and Norah Jones; bassists such as Thundercat, Michael League, and Tal Wilkenfeld; and composers such as Jon Batiste, Jacob Collier, and Kamasi Washington.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *